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The British cement industry in 2013 – 2014

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World Cement,

The Cement Industry Suppliers Forum took place in Stratford-upon-Avon on 23rd and 24th September, giving UK cement producers and their industry partners the opportunity to hear the latest industry updates and new technologies.

Edwin Trout of The Concrete Society started proceedings with an overview of the British cement industry in 2013/2014. The picture has changed somewhat dramatically since the last Forum, when the then Competition Commission (now Competition and Markets Authority) was yet to release its final findings with regard to competition in the UK cement and blastfurnace slag industries. Having announced in January that Lafarge Tarmac, the joint venture between Anglo American and Lafarge, would need to sell another of its cement plants, we have learnt in recent weeks that the final decision is to be stayed until after the Holcim-Lafarge merger is complete. Hanson must also sell one of its GBFS facilities. Other companies, including Breedon Aggregates, Quinn Cement and Tarmac, have also been involved in acquisition and disposal activities, while the sale of Hanson’s Building Products division is set to be complete within the next few weeks. Meanwhile, cement demand is up thanks to the government’s Help-to-Buy scheme, which has been a big force driving the housing industry. The Construction Products Association is forecasting growth of 10% over the next two years. Prices have also risen, while some companies have reported a shortage of flyash and bricks this summer.

In terms of investment, logistics and alternative fuels appear to be the main areas of spending for cement companies, with many announcing additions to their fleet as well as new logistics solutions, while the Hope and Ballyconnell cement plants have invested in alternative fuels projects. Mr Trout pointed out that carbon capture projects have thus far been focused on the power industry, but there is still potential for cement there. Meanwhile, water management has become a new area of concern. 

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